Category Archives: Uncategorized

Totally biased product review by me — Roti Palace of India

The portion was actually 30% bigger than this but we started to eat before we remembered to take a photo

We did a search back in the Brits in Toronto archives and can’t believe there isn’t a review of Roti Palace of India (3321 Bloor Street West = Islington/Bloor) as it’s been a west end neighbourhood staple for years. So let’s rectify that.

We’ve tried quite a few dishes from there previously, namely the Eggplant & Potato, Chicken Tikka Masala and Lamb Chettinad — all very good — but the one we love (and shown in the photo) is the ubiquitous Chicken Vindaloo … so got that again.

This is definitely a fave as it’s one of the hottest vindaloos we can find in the area, very similar to the heat levels of the one at Tadka Sizzling Indian Spices.

One of the aspects that make it so tasty is that the curry sauce is really nice and thick. You can just spoon it like a rich soup as part of the experience. Yum!

The chicken is not dry at all and — to us, anyway — the recipe seems very simple and unfussy. It’s just nice, hefty chunks of chicken in a really flavourful and spicy sauce, perfect for spring-cleaning those sinuses.

For bonus points the Raita is very creamy too with good onion slices in there to give your palate a break if needed.

Always reliable and tasty, we give Roti Palace of India a solid Brits in Toronto 4/5 stars.


Totally biased product review by me — Panera Bread Chicken Tikka Masala Soup

The bowl was big so the portion looks small

It’s kind of rare to find a curry-flavoured soup around Toronto so our hearts skipped a beat as we stumbled across a NEW offering on the Panera Bread (various locations) menu: Chicken Tikka Masala Soup. We had to have it. Just had to.

First impressions were that it was a generous portion size for the price. Some soups on sandwich chains’ menus are often an afterthought and smallish, but this one makes a good lunch option.

We dug in. It was nice and thick, almost like a curry sauce in itself, with quite a bit of rice too … although that seemed a little crunchy and al dente. Lentils was the other main ingredient it seemed, which balanced out the texture, and think we spotted some pepper too, but couldn’t be sure.

Taste? It was OK and filled a gap. Definitely not British spicy so add a few drops of your own hot sauce if so inclined, but we wanted to sample it as it came.

It’s not really a Chicken Tikka Masala vibe, more like a general curry flavour. The closest we could compare this soup to is Heinz Mulligatawny, so if you’re craving and missing that, this might suffice in a pinch.

So, all in all, we give this soup a Brits in Toronto 2/5 stars.

500,000 frozen overseas British pensioners

Canadian Alliance of British Pensioners

Nigel Nelson from the Canadian Alliance of British Pensioners reached out to Brits in Toronto with his latest thoughts. He mentioned stepping back from fighting the “frozen British State Pension” issue and sent in the following article. Thanks and all the best, Nigel.

Anne Puckridge is 98 years old, and served in all of the armed forces, in India during WWII. She receives a weekly pension of £72.50, far below the current basic state pension, which by April will reach £156.20 per week.

Why? Because at the age of 76, Anne moved to Canada to be closer to her family in old age. In doing so, she inadvertently became one of 500,000 Britons, and one of 60,000 military veterans, who are cruelly denied their full UK state pension by the British Government.

Canada is one of 106 countries that British pensioners can retire to and their British State Pension is “frozen” at the level first received. Countries that have the most “frozen” British Pensioners include Australia with 225,000, Canada with 126,000, New Zealand with 64,000 and South Africa with over 30,000.

Other “frozen” countries include Japan (7,000), Thailand (Over 5,000), India (over 4,000) and Pakistan (over 2,500).

Have you noticed how much food prices have gone up in the last year? Around 14%, that is how much.

How are pensioners like Anne expected to manage when their British State Pension doesn’t increase year on year; exchange rates are also falling, so, in real terms Anne is getting less each year, yet food and heating prices are going through the roof.

How is she, and 126,000 like her expected to manage?

The non-indexation of the British Government pension is costing the Canadian economy $450 million a year.

Can we please highlight the plight of Anne, and the other half a million “frozen” British Pensioners, in articles and interviews, by signing this petition and also encouraging your audience to do so also.

If you would like to read more details on how indefensible the UK’s “frozen” pensions policy is, please read this article: “Indefensible!”: Pensioners join forces to stop 500,000 people receiving “poverty pension.”

Thanks very much.

Kind regards,
Nigel Nelson
Previous Chair of the International Consortium of British Pensioners (ICBP)

Totally biased product review by me — Kesariya Indian Cuisine

The portion sizes were quite generous

Decided to take a break from the usual favourite curry houses and try something different, so did a quick search and found Kesariya Indian Cuisine which opened in 2022. They’re located at Lockport Avenue and Shorncliffe Road.

As is my wont — and how I test a new Indian restaurant discovery — I went for the Chicken Karahi and Mixed Raita. I didn’t request extra spicy because I wanted to see what the defualt level was.

The spice level wasn’t overly nose-blowing hot, but had a nice kick to it. I could handle more. The portion size of both dishes were generous and the chicken was nice and juicy. A good amount of ginger in there too and the sauce was thick.

The Mixed Raita was tasty and had cucumbers, onions, coriander, tomatoes and mint in it. But it was warm, not cool. To give them the benefit of the doubt it may have been the delivery time … but I like a chilled raita.

All in all this is on the list to try another dish and gets a Brits in Toronto 3/5 stars.

Let’s all say hello to The Granite Brewery & Tied House

How good does that look?

Brits in Toronto got word of a family-run brew pub at the corner of Mount Pleasant and Eglinton that has been open since 1991. What’s so special abut that you may ask?

Well, they have an open fermentation brew house with Ringwood yeast which is a 200-year-old yeast that came to them from the town of Ringwood in the New Forest, UK.

They serve real ale as well as a number of English ales all brewed in-house.

So, let’s all say hello to The Granite Brewery & Tied House to find out more about this British connection.

Over to you, Brewmaster Mary Beth

What kind of breweries and restaurants was Kevin interested in and inspired by from the UK? Did he have a British background or heritage?

Kevin Keefe owned a few pubs in Halifax with his brother Wilfred in the 1980’s. At this time there was a growth of brew pubs in England and he came across a three-month brewing course taught by Peter Austin and Alan Pugsley in the town of Ringwood. He took his family over, learned to brew and purchased his brewhouse which was then shipped over to Halifax.

He began brewing at Ginger’s Tavern in 1985, then moved it to the historic Henry House where it stayed for twenty plus years. It was the first Ringwood brewing system in North America.

His brother Ron decided five years later, in 1990, that he too wanted to open a similar brewery in Toronto. He learned from his brother in Halifax and Alan Pugsley who had relocated to Maryland where he was brewmaster at Wild Goose Brewery. The Granite Toronto opened its doors in August of 1991 at Mt. Pleasant and Eglinton.

It is now run by Ron, my brother Sam who is the general manager and myself, who took over brewing operations in 2009. I won Canadian Brewer of the Year in 2021 at the Brewer’s Journal of Canada Brewer’s Choice Awards.

Please describe why Ringwood yeast was chosen and how the fermentation process works.

Ringwood was chosen because that was the yeast and system that Kevin learned on. What makes this yeast so special is that it is open fermented. When properly cared for, this yeast can be used over and over again.

Today we are using this pitch of yeast for the 1,300th time. A Granite record by a long shot! It is quick to ferment … a batch can be ready in under two weeks.

It makes wonderful English ales which is what we primarily use it for, although we make an award-winning Irish Stout with it, IPA’s, a blonde ale, etc. It has a very fruity and floral characteristic that makes it stand out.

What ales do you provide that would be of interest to Brits in Toronto missing the taste of home?

Our most popular beers at the Granite over the last 31 years remain our Best Bitter Special on cask and Peculiar, our homage to Theakston’s Old Peculier, an English strong ale.

We now have three casks on at any given time: always our Best Bitter Special and most often our Hopping Mad (an English/American hybrid IPA) and our English IPA. We also have our Best Bitter and Keefe’s Irish Stout on draft which are pub classics.

Which ones are the most popular?

We offer a blonde ale which is very popular. That is our most approachable beer style and it is called Ringwood after our beloved house yeast strain.

Four years ago, we put in one closed fermenter, FVX, in our brew house which allows us to make styles of beer that are not possible with the open fermenters and Ringwood yeast.

You’ll regularly find a NEIPA or West Coast IPA on tap, but we have also experimented with Belgian styles, lagers or German wheat beers!

Describe your typical day as the pub’s Brewmaster.

We are a small brewery, and a crew of four, so I do a bit of everything. Brew days are my favourite.

When I’m not in the brew house, I will be doing cellar work, packaging, cleaning, or administrative work.

Anything else we should know about The Granite Brewery & Tied house?

We are a family-run establishment and community is the most important thing to us. We are so lucky to have so many regulars that have been supporting us for the last 31

We like to think of the Granite as a home away from home.

England House 2022

Excited yet?!

Dan got in touch with Brits in Toronto about his brand “England House” to let us know that they’re setting up a supporters’ home at the Madison Avenue Pub in Toronto for the games this year and would love our support.

We’re happy to help so here’s the details for the Toronto events with Canada-wide events here.


8:00 a.m. | England v Iran | Monday, November 21
2:00 p.m. | England v USA | Friday, November 25
2:00 p.m. | England v Wales | Tuesday, November 29


Here’s the accounts for Instagram and Facebook if you want to get in touch with Dan.

Let’s all say hello to the Markham Concert Band

Get ready for some Fab Four fun

A few days ago, Doug reached out from the Markham Concert Band to let Brits in Toronto know that they are a presenting a concert titled MCB’s British Invasion on October 23, 2022 in the Flato Markham Theatre.

From the promo: “What do you get when you cross ‘Night at the Proms’ with ‘A Beatles Tribute’? We’ll play your favourite Beatles tunes, but also revisit the classic tunes of England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. And we’ll finish, of course, with Pomp and Circumstance, complete with ‘Land of Hope and Glory.’ We’ll even give you a Union Jack to wave!”

We thought that this concert might be a cool event so asked Doug for some more info …

Tell us a little of the history and how people can become a member of the Markham Concert Band. Are there any Brits involved?

Since 1978, Markham Concert Band has been all about the love of music. Sixty members, ranging in age from their ’20s to their ’80s, meet every Monday to rehearse a wide variety of music.

Amazingly, three of our founding members are still with the Band, and 12 members have been with us for more than 20 years. It proves what a wonderful group the Band is dedicated to music but also to having fun rehearsing and performing together. We have a least one British expatriate in our group and many more members of British descent.

What is your role in the organization and what do you do for the Markham Concert Band?

Our band has an executive committee that manages the band operations. Our conductor, Doug Manning, leads all musical aspects of the band. My role on the executive is vice president. I am responsible for booking concerts, preparing grant applications and acting as president when the president is away. We have a great group of volunteers that run the band.

What style of music does the Markham Concert Band play and does it vary?

We play a wide variety of music. At the Band’s four shows held annually at the Flato Markham Theatre and at our many outdoor shows during the summer, audiences enjoy music from marches and movie themes to Broadway hits and rock classics like Bohemian Rhapsody.

What’s the inspiration behind the British Invasion event and what other bands are being covered apart from The Beatles? What can attendees expect?

We thought combining “Night at the Proms” and British pop music would make a very entertaining afternoon for music lovers of all tastes. There are so many great Beatles tunes that we decided to focus the pop content of our show on the Fab Four.

Anything else you want Brits in Toronto to know about the Markham Concert Band?

The show will be introduced by Markham’s own Town Crier John Webster (a former world champion crier). We’ll feature folk tunes from the British Isles, as well some terrific medleys of your favourite Beatles tunes.

The show will end with a rousing rendition of Land of Hope and Glory, with complementary Union Jacks for all attendees.

You can check out some of our prior performances on our YouTube channel.

Here’s a taste of them in action:

Totally biased product review by me — Koshaa

Three delicious things vying for attention

It was a sad day when Tich closed … but a glimmer of hope when they announced that a new curry house would replace it. The Brits in Toronto crew loved Tich so it was time to see how the new one lived up to high expectations.

It’s called Koshaa and it’s located on Lakeshore (2314 Lakeshore Blvd West = Lakeshore/Burlington Street).

Usually we go for the “fancy” specials but wanted to get back to basics, so ordered the Home-Style Chicken Curry (extra spicy of course!), Baigan Bhartha, Pakoras, Raita and Mixed Pickle.

The home-style dish consisted of chicken morsels cooked in aromatic curry, infused with fenugreek, onion and tomato-based sauce. This was the kind of gravy that we really like … thick, meaty … could eat a bowl of the gravy by itself.

Have to say the chicken was a tad dry but not a huge dealbreaker overall. Would order this dish again.

The veggie main Baigan Bhartha is roasted mashed eggplant, cooked with green peas and house-made spices. This had a nice smoky taste to it and we enjoyed it. The dish carried over well to lunch next day too, but we warmed it up in a frying pan and didn’t nuke it in the trusty microwave. (Actually, we do that with all our leftover curries as they have a nicer consistency and don’t dry out.)

Stars of the show were the pakoras: fritters of sliced onion and spinach dipped in a batter of gram flour and deep-fried. They were chewy and crunchy at the same time and we got a lunch and another dinner side out of them, so very good value.

The Raita (house-made yogurt infused with cucumber) was nice and creamy but the Mixed Pickle was the kind we’re not keen on, no fault of the restaurant, just a personal preference … they were more towards the “hard, green sour kind” but we’re being picky.

Overall, summing up everything, we’re going to go back to Koshaa for some other dishes and give it a solid Brits in Toronto 4/5 stars.

Totally biased product review by me — Schwartz Bombay Potatoes

Loved the look of this dish on the packet

Bombay Potatoes is one of our favourite veggie curry sides but it’s not always the easiest to find in Toronto Indian restaurants, so we were absolutely delighted to make this impulse buy when browsing the shelves of our go-to British shop, A Bit of Home. A steal at $4.

We really loved the look of the packet and the fact it had four peppers and “Extra Hot” highlighted. Just to be clear this is a mixture of spices and other goodies — potatoes, an onion and tomatoes NOT included, so pick those items up too.

It was very easy to put together. Just par-boil the spuds (diced) until semi-soft, then throw in a pan with the onion, chopped tomatoes and contents of the packet. Let it simmer for around 20 mins and dinner’s ready.

The taste? Very good. The heat level was probably more a three-pepper rating rather than four, but a very nice flavour and suited the potatoes perfectly.

It says “Serves 4” on the packet but we got a dinner and lunch out of it, so goes a long way.

Will definitely be buying this again and give it a rare Brits in Toronto 5/5 stars.

Totally biased product review by me — Just Soup Bombay Tomato

Hey, it’s Chef Dev!

This review is a little different as it’s curry-related, not an actual dish, but we spotted Just Soup Bombay Tomato and thought we’d give it a go. This is produced by Chef Dev who is based in Toronto.

Some of the ingredients include garam masala, turmeric and chilis. We bought the larger size bottle and it was a good filling portion for lunch. A perfect soup for a cold Canadian winter’s day.

The consistency was nice and thick with a good heat level. Maybe it’s the kind of product you could make at home yourself, with a can of tinned tomatoes, the right combination of spices and a good blender. But we liked the taste of this so will just buy some more.

One dish that we thought this soup would actually make a really good base for is shakshuka as it’s already spicy and you’d just need to add some eggs.

So, all in all a nice tasty soup with some zing and we give it a Brits in Toronto 3/5 stars.

Totally biased product review by me — Indilicious

Kadhai Chicken (left) and Vegetable Jalfrezi

Happy new year, everyone! And with a new year it’s time for the first curry review of 2022.

One of our favourite Indian restaurants was Tich … but we never had a chance to review it as it — *sniff* — recently permanently closed.

The good news is that a former chef there by the name of Sujoy Saha opened up his own curry house in The Junction called Indilicious (3358 Dundas St. West = Dundas St. West/Runnymede) and we decided to see if the quality was up to scratch too.

Our dishes were Kadhai Chicken, Vegetable Jalfrezi, Raita and Mixed Pickle.

As is our wont, we requested that the Kadhai Chicken be extra spicy. The heat doesn’t hit you immediately but it’s more of a nice, slow burn as you eat more of it. As you can see from the photo above, the sauce was very thick and rich with a lot of onions, something we love in a curry. Some ghee too (we think) but not swimming in oil. There was lots of bell peppers too for some crunch. The chicken pieces were plump and juicy and a good portion size. We have lunch leftovers. A nice dish.

Vegetable Jalfrezi is one dish we never try, so went for it as an accompaniment. What’s not to like about crunchy veggies in a flavourful sauce full of herbs and spices? More bell peppers, peas and cauliflower to add to the experience. Again, it was a good portion size and made it to lunch leftovers.

Regular readers of Brits in Toronto know we’re picky about the Raita. No worries here — one of the best we’ve ever had! Extremely creamy and thick. Not much cucumber … but it’s not actually advertised as that so not a problem. Just a good mouth taste all around.

Mixed Pickle was a fave too. Sometimes you get a lot of what we call wastage = hard bits of rind, or other unknowns that you can’t actually chew and swallow. All the pickles in this extra were very soft and no spitting things out. A really good mix of pickles.

We liked Indilicious a lot and Chef Saha has himself a great restaurant in the West End. It scores a solid Brits in Toronto 4/5 stars.

Totally biased product review by me — Tadka Sizzling Indian Spices

Chicken Vindaloo (left) and Baingan Bharta

Time for yet another festive curry review. I’m not sure we’ll ever run out of places to try in Toronto — thankfully, there are lots. Today we sample Tadka Sizzling Indian Spices (666 The Queensway = The Queensway/Royal York Road).

Needed the heat big time, so went for the Chicken Vindaloo, accompanied by the veggie Baingan Bharta, with sides of Raita and Mixed Hot Pickles.

Finally found a curry spicy enough (without requesting the heat levels be raised) to blow our socks off! The Chicken Vindaloo was that lovely, Brit-style fiery dark red colour. It was a nice rich, thick sauce and the chunks of chicken were huge.

The spice kicked in on the first bite and we definitely needed some tissues handy for the nose-blowing and brow-mopping routine. It was extremely flavourful and we’ll definitely go back for this dish alone.

The Baingan Bharta was also good: a tandoor-grilled eggplant mashed and cooked with garlic, ginger and onions. This is a perfect dish if you like plenty of crunchy ginger pieces. Lots of peas in it too which was a bonus.

Only small letdown to the meal was that the Raita was a bit thin and runny with not a great amount of cucumber in it. We like a creamier version. And the Mixed Hot Pickles did exactly what it says on the tin … regular and tasty.

This place is on our list for a revisit and therefore Tadka Sizzling Indian Spices earns a Brits in Toronto 4/5 stars.

Totally biased product review by me — Bukhara Grill

Chicken Jalfrezi to the left of me, Eggplant Bharta to the right, stuck in the middle with you

As the tagline of Brits in Toronto states, it’s our mission to search out the best curries — tough job but someone has to do it. In these times too we like to support the local eateries in the city.

Thought we’d try a place called Bukhara Grill (2241 A Bloor St. West = Bloor/Runnymede). Never heard of it before but read some reviews and they were pretty good.

Fired up the website and placed an order for Chicken Jalfrezi (extra spicy), Eggplant Bharta, Cucumber Raita and Mixed Pickles. Our usual go-to “test” dish is a Chicken Tikka Masala, but thought a change would be good.

First off, the Chicken Jalfrezi. It wasn’t really as spicy as we’d requested, but again, maybe our tolerance levels are too high now to really be satisfied. The spice level did kick in a little after a while but it wasn’t vindaloo-level heat.

The chicken was moist and tender … the flavours were good … but we honestly can’t say it was set apart from any other curry we’ve tried in Toronto, one that we MUST HAVE AGAIN like some other places. It was a decent-sized portion, though, if you need lunch leftovers next day.

The Eggplant Bharta was a nice vegetarian option, but again, nothing off the charts. Maybe a chickpea dish — like a Chana Masala — may have been a better choice? Flavour did the job adequately … and that was it.

Cucumber Raita is usually standard, but this one was actually very good, nice and creamy and tart. Perfect balance for the curry. A good amount of Mixed Pickles too.

So, all things considered, we’re STILL on the never-ending hunt for a typical “British” curry and give Bukhara Grill a Brits in Toronto 3/5 stars.

Totally biased product review by me — EPOCH Bar & Kitchen Terrace

Billionaire Shepherd’s Pie = Wagyu beef, potato purée, crispy shallots, summer truffles

“At Epoch, we nod to the food and beverage trends of the past and re-imagine them. We are inspired by the gastropub movement that shook the culinary world in the 90s. Our concept re-defines pub culture and pays homage to traditional British dining.”

How could we refuse that description? If “paying homage to traditional British dining” includes a Billionaire Shepherd’s Pie made with Wagyu beef, potato purée, crispy shallots, summer truffles … then we’re in and definitely going to check it out.

The above item at EPOCH Bar & Kitchen Terrace (in the Ritz-Carlton Toronto) is listed on the menu as a “snacketizer” but don’t be fooled — it’s a good portion and a large one to be included on the starters. But it is extremely delicious, decadent and rich.

Blue Crab Lettuce Cups

Maybe a more apt starter is the Blue Crab Lettuce Cups? These are two (generous) bite-sized gem lettuce cups with blue crab, pickled apple and fennel pollen. The crab is very juicy and the pickled apple cuts nicely into the richness of the seafood. It wouldn’t be a stretch to go for four of these and have a smaller main course. Again, very tasty.

Yellowtail Fish Collar

For a main dish we had the Yellowtail Fish Collar with Scottish Cullen Skink, smoked haddock, potatoes, cream and skinny fries. This was easily the star of the show. The fish just fell off the collarbone and was as smooth as butter. Throw in the crispy skinny fries and the tart arugula and fennel salad and you have a flavour explosion happening in every bite. This dish is a definite “must have again at some point, maybe tomorrow?” kind of happening.

Duck Fat Potatoes

Why not a side of duck fat potatoes (roasted three times) with caraway and Espelette pepper? Why not indeed. Another star of the show and you’d be hard-pressed to find potatoes this good somewhere else. (But please ping us if you feel there’s a candidate in Toronto …)

Scottish Cullen Skink

Remember that Scottish Cullen Skink on the earlier dish? We loved it so much they gave the Brits in Toronto crew an extra bowl of it with some crispy bread (almost tasted like a fried slice).

It wasn’t the same authentic experience as eating it and looking out the window at seagulls and a Scottish sea scene … but very close to the taste. Seemed a little more creamier than what we recalled from trips to Scotland. But could still bathe in it.

We rounded off the meal with profiteroles (not pictured as they went too quick!) = cream puffs stuffed with milk chocolate ice cream, caramel and chocolate sauce. Quite filling too.

Apart from the excellent food, the drinks were great too. Bear in mind draught Guinness lovers it’s not a full pint (at $10) but comes in a tall, skinny glass and looked about 2/3 of a pint.

Our server Ashley was amazing, had time to chat and also invited over the bar manager, Jason Griffin, to explain how one of the cocktails we particularly liked was prepared and made over days to get all the balanced flavours. Takes a LOT of work!

This was one of the best Brit menu-inspired meals we’ve had in a while and definitely rates as a “date night” or other special occasion where you want to treat yourself.

Ashley mentioned there’s a revised menu coming November 10 so we’re keen to see that too. Apparently oysters may be on there.

So, if you haven’t guessed yet, EPOCH Bar & Kitchen Terrace is brilliant and worthy of a Brits in Toronto 5/5 stars.

Update November 12, 2021
Oysters made it to the new menu. Sad to see the Yellowtail Fish Collar and Duck Fat Potatoes disappear though.

Successful Brits in Toronto: James Sharman

James Sharman looking mighty dapper

Well, it’s been over a YEAR since we featured our last Successful Brit in Toronto but today we’re back with a bang. It’s James Sharman, owner of Sharman’s Proper Pies, host at DAZN and Footy Prime the Podcast.

What made you decide to choose Toronto as a city of choice? Did you plan a permanent move, or wanted to “try it for a while and see how it goes” and it turned out to be longer than planned?

It’s funny, I have a vivid memory of standing in the playground at my secondary school in Tunbridge Wells, U.K. lining up ahead of some GCSE, it must have been spring 1990, and thinking to myself how much I was going to miss England, and that as excited as I was to move to Canada, I’d only spend a couple of years there, and then head back home. Thirty-one years later, and here we are.

To be honest, I probably would have moved back home if I had stayed in Mississauga, but after moving to Toronto for university in 1992, I found my new home. Originally it was a family move … my parents actually met in Toronto in the ’60s, had my sister here, then returned to England for two decades. It took a while to convince the country it should let the Sharmans back — but in 1990 we got the approval.

What steps did you take to land your first Toronto job? Did the infamous “Canadian experience” hinder you in any way?

I went to Ryerson University to study Media Arts, and just as I was graduating Headline Sports (later to rebrand as theScore) was launching. I interviewed for an internship, during which I was asked if I followed football? Of course I did, but admittedly my accent helped me enormously.

A couple of years later I was producing and anchoring all the network’s international sports coverage. It allowed me to establish a brand that has been helpful in launching my latest project (along with my wife, Toni) Sharman’s Proper Pies. So basically, in no way was I hindered, although I was never going to be given a chance to report on hockey or baseball with THIS accent!

What’s the best/worst aspects of living in Toronto?

I love how multicultural Toronto is; as a foodie this allows me to enjoy any cuisine from any part of the world at any time. Without doubt, Toronto is a world-class destination for food. I enjoy the various cultural identities, be it Greektown, Little Italy or Spadina, a small city that feels so much bigger because of this.

I also like Torontonians. I know we get a bad rap across the nation, but we’re OK, we have a decent sense of humour and are relatively approachable.

As for the worst aspect? The traffic is diabolical, it is a broken infrastructure, public transport is poor, and can we please make an effort to spruce up the lakefront? A few restaurants on the water would be nice!

Do you make an effort to connect with other Brits in the city, or just meet them when chance allows it? Any recommended pubs/eateries/other places for homesick Brits to meet each other and network?

I’ve always believed when you move to a new place, try and vibe with the locals, which is what I do … that said, working in the footy world for so many years means I have a solid foundation of Brit friends and acquaintances, it’s tough to escape them actually ;).

And more recently, moving into the food space, a food space based in the traditions of British pies means rarely a day goes by that I don’t have a good chat with some weird accent.

As for recommendations? I hear there is a fantastic place called Sharman’s Proper Pies at 1972 Danforth Ave. and 160 Baldwin St. I always had good times at Scallywags, often despite England losing a huge match though. So sad it has closed down.

Open question/comment: feel free to write anything here/advice/tips on a Brit living in, or moving to, Toronto.

As I alluded to earlier, I never anticipated staying so long in Canada, but three decades have raced by, I have a Canadian wife, and a Canadian daughter, for all intents and purposes I am Canadian.

It really is a wonderful place to live, with the best advice I could give being: don’t compare it to where you come from, accept it for all it is. If you do that, you will fall in love with the country, and Toronto is a great place to begin that journey.

Thanks James! Did you mention you also have a pie shop? For those who want to contact James here’s his Twitter account.

Request from the Canadian Alliance of British Pensioners

Canadian Alliance of British Pensioners

Got an e-mail today from Ian Andexser, Chairman, Canadian Alliance of British Pensioners, an organization we’ve featured extensively on Brits in Toronto mainly via postings by Nigel Nelson (if you want to search back).

Ian has requested some support from British expats living in Canada, so here it is as written …

“As many of you know I am very involved in trying to get British pensions indexed in Canada and regardless of whether you are a member of our association or not, you can support a very important action about to take place.

“First of all you should be aware that our pressure on the Canadian government has resulted in them recently sending an official request to the UK to enter into a social security agreement to cover pensions. This is HUGE!

“The UK have recently signed 23 new agreements with EU countries because of Brexit, and it will be very difficult for them to refuse Canada’s request.

“I have been able to arrange (through our lobbyists in London) for a ‘virtual’ Zoom video meeting next month between British MPs and Canadian MPs to discuss the issue and we have [a] newspaper in the UK prepared to write a story leading up to this important meeting, but they want the headline to be … ‘Thousands of expats in Canada ask PM Boris’ … etc.

“So I am pleading with you to go to this link and add your name to the letter.

“You should also send this e-mail [blog post] to every British person you know living in Canada regardless of them being a pensioner or not (they will be some day) and ask them to do the same thing.”

Totally biased product review by me — Bramble Gastropub

They certainly don’t skimp on portion sizes

I heard about a new British eaterie at Bloor Street West and Royal York Road called Bramble Gastropub so perused the menu.

Scotch Egg with Lamb Sausage? Check. Sausage and Mashed? Check. Finchley Fish and Chips? Check. Poutine with Pheasant Confit? Check.

All looked amazing, but thought I’d plump for the traditional Sunday British roast of roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes, seasonal veg and gravy. It costs $26 and you can also get dessert for $7. They deliver too if you’re in the area.

Well, have to say it was absolutely delish. As mentioned in the photo caption they certainly don’t skimp on portion sizes. It was actually enough for dinner and lunch next day unless you can really eat huge amounts of (medium rare perfection) roast beef … massive Yorkshire puddings … loads of veg … and really nice crispy roasties. Those were my favourite part of the meal to be honest. So good.

You push yourself away from the table, a little stuffed, but still have room for dessert. How about the Eton Mess? This is strawberry meringue, gooseberry, burnt marshmallow and golden cake. Hits the spot.

The Eton Mess

All in all a really solid Sunday roast and I give it a rare Brits in Toronto 5/5 stars. Looking forward to trying some of their other menu items soon.

Year End Party and Quiz with the BCCTC

Let’s finish 2020 strong!

Another party invite!

This time it’s the (virtual) Year End Party & Quiz courtesy of the British Canadian Chamber of Trade and Commerce.

Wednesday, December 16 from 4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. (or longer for party people, that’s the spirit!) and with prizes, awards and a silent auction. What more can you ask for?

Click here for all the details … and it’s free.

Virtual Christmas Pub Quiz

Horrid Christmas jumper optional

Yes, it’s December and that can only mean one thing — Crimbo is around the corner and the invites (mostly virtual) are starting to flood the Brits in Toronto in-box. (Actually, just one for now … hint hint.)

Amanda from the Toronto Brit Meetup Group contacted us to say …

The Virtual Christmas Pub Quiz is taking place on Saturday, December 12 at 7:00 P.M.

Final one for the year! Please go to the Toronto Brit Meetup Group (with Amanda as the organiser), sign up for free and see all the details and receive all the updates. You need to be a member to be able to receive the Zoom link on the night. See you there!

Subscribe to the Marmite lovers list and know when it’s back

There’s currently a shortage of this liquid brown gold

Apparently there’s a shortage of Marmite and it’s causing concern for fans of the stuff.

But well played, The British Grocer! They have a Marmite lovers page where you can sign up to be informed when it’s back, so you can get your fix.

(Marmite haters will be turned away …)

Totally biased product review by me — Campbell’s Chunky Butter Chicken and Vegetables Soup

Felt like a “curry in a soup” box was being ticked somewhere

We work hard at Brits in Toronto to scour the city and find the best curry so when we saw that Chunky — a pretty good brand — had deemed it necessary … some would say essential … to put Butter Chicken and vegetables into a soup version, we just had to try it.

The colour was on point, the kind of orangey-yellow you would expect and the consistency wasn’t too bad, but a little thick. Usually that works but not really in this case.

There was a decent amount of chicken pieces in there and the vegetables were OK too. Absolutely no spicy heat as to be expected on a Butter Chicken dish.

The consensus was that Chunky was trying to tick a “curry in a soup” box here but didn’t really pull it off. Kind of blah.

We give it a Brits in Toronto 1/5 stars.

Update November 1, 2020
The horror! Forgot we already reviewed this once already back in October 2018. Gave it the same score then too.

Did you ever work in the UK?

Canadian Alliance of British Pensioners

The following is sponsored content.

If you worked in the UK, then chances are that you might one day be eligible to receive a British pension, even though you are now living in Canada.

There are some criteria that you have to meet, but if you worked there for as little as one year, you could still be eligible when you reach retirement age. Click here to find out when that will be

The Canadian Alliance of British Pensioners (CABP) is a not-for-profit group that provides all sorts of useful and knowledgeable information that can assist you in determining your future pension entitlement.

Example #1: Our current chairman emigrated to Canada in 1976 after only working six years in the UK. With the help of CABP pension experts, he is now getting almost $10,000 every year from his UK pension!

Example #2: A 75-year-old lady emigrated to Canada after working in the UK for 12 years. She was entitled to a UK pension 10 years ago but didn’t know it.

CABP recently helped her apply for her pension and when she receives it, she will get her annual amount going forward plus 10 years of uncollected pension! The amount that she will receive is still being calculated but it will be a significant sum of unexpected money.

It is hard to believe but it is true! Perhaps a pension is possible for you and if you join us we will help you find out.

Regardless of your age, now is the time to be looking into your British pension eligibility because every year that you delay might reduce your future amount.

Check out CABP’s website or call the Toronto office at 416-253-6402.

It could be the smartest financial decision you have ever made.

Totally biased product review by me — Wildly Delicious Butter Chicken

Wildly Delicious Butter Chicken

Butter Chicken, no filter needed

Let’s start this completely biased review by saying one thing: no curry sauce in a bottle, tin or packet WILL EVER be as good as being freshly prepared from scratch in an Indian restaurant.

But …. some come quite close and do the job when you don’t want to go out or feel like something quickly prepared. I think that Wildly Delicious Butter Chicken fits the bill.

I found it in Pusateri’s for $7.99, not bad for the size of the bottle. It’s not huge but goes a long way once you add it to the frying pan with some chicken (or veggies). I like to use any kind of curry sauce just as a starter kit, so added some onions, extra garlic, extra ginger and tomatoes.

For once — and this is rare for me — I didn’t add any extra spice. If you’re a regular reader of this blog (thanks mum) you’ll know that I usually like to ramp up the heat levels to at least three nose-blowing tissues … but feel that Butter Chicken is best enjoyed as a subtle flavour, so left well alone for this one.

The sauce is nice and silky but I just added a little water to the bottle, shook it and poured the rest in as some stuck to the inside and I wanted every little buttery chickeny drop!

The flavour was really very good. If I closed my eyes while eating and drowned out the Real Housewives of Beverley Hills on the TV, my cat meowing and the ping-ping-ping of my work-from-home e-mail, I could just have been in a real Indian restaurant enjoying Butter Chicken. The taste was very close.

Embarrassed to mention it does say “feeds 3-4” on the bottle and I honestly was going to save some for lunch next day, but it was so good I just couldn’t stop.

Definitely on my list again and I give this a Brits in Toronto 4/5 stars.

Totally biased product review by me — Walmart Our Finest Extra Mature Cheddar Cheese

Walmart Our Finest Extra Mature Cheddar Cheese

A decent little budget cheese that holds its own

I always have a little giggle — or sometimes, a guffaw — when I read in the Brits in Toronto groups that expats miss the cheese from back home. Having been here 20 years, I can attest to the fact that there are some really good ones here, but you have to search them out.

Spend a few hours wandering around the Cheese Boutique sampling their wares and you’ll see what we mean. Brilliant shop. You pay for what you get … so be prepared for a little more outlay for a delicious selection.

Walmart gives good cheese too. Yep, you read that right. Take for example the Our Finest Extra Mature Cheddar Cheese brand. For around $5 for a decent block, it will satisfy those late night cheese on toast cravings or with a nice Ploughman’s lunch.

Not a huge crumble factor — you can slice quite deep in with a knife before it breaks in two — but has a decent flavour for a budget mature cheddar. A little tangy and creamy at the same time, it hits the spot quite nicely.

We give it a Brits in Toronto 3/5 stars.

Britannia: Britpop/Madchester/UKindie Video Dance Party — June 26

Britannia virtual

Suede and Pulp are just two of the Brit bands you’ll see this Friday night

Yes, it’s that time again to get your virtual dance shoes on, fire up the laptop, grab a beer and tune into the — first virtual — Britannia Video Dance Party! Brits in Toronto has covered these brilliant events before here and here, so take a look at what to expect.

It’s happening this Friday, June 26 from 9:00 p.m.-1:00 a.m. so join the common people for a special night of Britpop, Madchester and UKindie video favourites. Post your requests in the invite.

See videos from Oasis, The Verve, Suede, Pulp, Blur, Supergrass, The Stone Roses, Inspiral Carpets, Sleeper, Shed Seven, The Boo Radleys, Wonderstuff, Ride, The Smiths, The Charlatans, Happy Mondays, Carter USM, Jesus Jones, Echobelly, Manic Street Preachers, Travis, Stereolab, Catherine Wheel, Ocean Colour Scene, EMF, House Of Love, Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, Kula Shaker, The Jam, Soup Dragons, The Auteurs, Joy Division, Ian Brown, Dodgy, Mansun, Black Grape, The La’s, The Farm, Republica, Menswear, Cast, Space, Longpigs, Echo and the Bunnnymen, Lush, Primal Scream, James, Saint Etienne, Gene, Jesus And Mary Chain, Lightning Seeds, Catatonia, Spiritualized, Adorable, Paul Weller, Franz Ferdinand, Super Furry Animals, Simple Minds, Rolling Stones, Flowered Up, The Bluetones, The Fall, New Order, The Mock Turtles, Radiohead, The Beatles and many more.

DJ Lazarus is a great bloke and puts tons of efforts into these (now virtual) events, so please support the Brits in Toronto music and arts scene by tuning in to say hi and have fun!

Let’s all help fellow Brit Simon find a job!

Simon Williams-Im

Friendly, outgoing, experienced, well travelled and a snappy dresser; form a queue, HR people

Simon got in touch with Brits in Toronto for help in finding a new role.

He wrote: “I am new to Toronto and I am looking for a new full- or part-time job for Monday-Friday. I am currently working remotely for a call centre for a charity and working as an online English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher.

“I have previous work experience as a receptionist, general admin, ESL instructor, journalist and a range of other roles (aka well rounded!).”

Simon is also very modest. His very nice website also mentions that he’s lived around the world including nearly eight years in South Korea … Belgium, Israel and England. Alongside a range of office and retail based roles in Birmingham, England and Vancouver.

“I am a very outgoing individual who is looking for a full- or part-time role in Toronto. I can start at short notice and hold a Canadian PR card,” he adds.

So, if you can help this Brummie land his next role — or just to compliment him on his cool fashion sense! — then you can find him at LinkedIn or via his resume.

Successful Brits in Toronto: Amanda Briggs

Photo by Darren Goldstein/DSG Photo.

Amanda enjoying a nice cup of Rosy Lee before she sells some houses

It’s been a while since we did a Successful Brits in Toronto because a little thing called a pandemic kind of threw a spanner in the works. Hope everyone is staying healthy and well.

But we’re back with a bang and a well-known face in the British expat community in Toronto: Amanda Briggs. She runs the Toronto Brit Meetup Group that — now virtually — holds a regular fun pub quiz night. Next one will be Saturday, June 6 so stay tuned for details.

And, if that wasn’t enough to keep Amanda busy, she also sells property via her very catchily-named The British Property Agent, so give her a shout if you’re in the market for a new manor.

Amanda is one of the few Successful Brits in Toronto that we’ve met in person — at last year’s amazing Brits in Toronto/TFC event — so it’s nice to finally feature her on the site.

Take it away, Amanda …

What made you decide to choose Toronto as a city of choice? Did you plan a permanent move, or wanted to “try it for a while and see how it goes” and it turned out to be longer than planned?

I moved here with my family in 1999 because it was either a move to Canada or Australia. Yes we planned to stay for a while, as we applied to be Landed Immigrants (now called Permanent Resident) before we arrived here. However three months after I moved here, I met someone who lived back in the UK. About three years later, I moved back to the UK and ended up staying for 10 years. I moved back to Canada in 2011 and I am now a Canadian Citizen.

What steps did you take to land your first Toronto job? Did the infamous “Canadian experience” hinder you in any way?

Back then, I just e-mailed my CV to 10 companies that I wanted to work for and waited. Three of them got back to me and invited me for interviews. The lack of Canadian experience didn’t seem to hinder me too much back then; however I didn’t get an equal job here vs. the one I had back home — I had to take a lower level role.

What’s the best/worst aspects of living in Toronto?

Best: Lots of cultural diversity — you can eat pretty much any cuisine you like! I like that there isn’t much a class system here vs. back in the UK where is it more prevalent. It’s great being so close to lots of North American cities, outdoor life in Ontario is very popular and accessible, and the work/ life balance is better than when I was living in London.

Worst: The winters, trying to get people to understand my accent, food has more sugar in everything, not as many old buildings (vs. London), culture is a bit lacking — the country is only about 150+ years’ old, which is about the age of my flat back in London!

Do you make an effort to connect with other Brits in the city, or just meet them when chance allows it? Any recommended pubs/eateries/other places for homesick Brits to meet each other and network?

Yes I meet Brits all the time, through my job and social events. I have been running the Toronto Brit Meetup Group for about five years, and we host a very popular pub quiz night every three months (150+people attend), and regular pub nights where Brits and people who have a connection to the UK come to network, mingle and chat about all things British.

Open question/comment: feel free to write anything here/advice/tips on a Brit living in, or moving to, Toronto.

Keep an open mind when moving to Toronto. It is a lot harder to find a job than people think it is, and it is highly likely that you will have to take a job that is not what your career or experience relates to … however, a job is better than no job. You can always get another job that is more what you want to do in the future.

I help a LOT of Brits and other expats find a place to live when they first arrive in Toronto. Landlords are very selective when it comes to choosing tenants, and typically if you don’t have a job lined up when you arrive, it can be a lot harder for a landlord to say yes to you.

However there are ways to get around this, and I have a lot of experience in getting a new home for expats fast.

Winters can be a lot colder than people expect, even if they are forewarned! Your UK winter coat is not going to cut the mustard when it is -30 degrees with a wind chill.

The work/ life balance is better here than in London. Lot of opportunities to get out and about after work in the sun or snow.

Let’s all help fellow Brits George and Lewis find a job!

George and Lewis

George (left) and Lewis are keen to find work once they get to Toronto

George and Lewis got in touch to ask for a helping hand in securing some work in Toronto once the COVID-19 crisis is over. So if anyone out there can plan ahead or make a note to check them out, would be much appreciated.

Lewis writes …

“A friend and I are starting to look into moving to Toronto as soon as we can, hopefully as soon as all this corona [crisis] has blown over, and we’ve come across your page and are hoping that you can help us out. We’re just finishing up with university this year and have both lost our jobs due to the coronavirus so we feel now would be the perfect time to make the move while there’s nothing on for us.

“Ideally we’re looking at doing a bit of bar work for a few months, but with bartenders in North America not making as much as those in the UK we’re wondering as to whether we’d be able to make a decent living and be able to survive on a bartender’s wage and tips?”

If anyone in the industry has some insight to share, here are their LinkedIn profiles to get in touch.



Coronavirus resources for Brits in Toronto


Coronavirus or COVID-19

In these scary and uncertain times, we thought it would be useful to compile a list of coronavirus/COVID-19 resources to help Brits in Toronto keep updated on what may affect them and their loved ones in the local area. Newcomers to the city may find it handy too.

This is definitely not an exhaustive list and we’ll add to and update it as we find relevant information. Please send suggestions via the contact form or tweet us, thanks.

Stay healthy, everyone.

Toronto Public Health

City of Toronto COVID-19 updates

Office of the Mayor John Tory

List of hospitals in Toronto

Media in Toronto

Toronto traffic updates

Government of Ontario COVID-19 updates

Toronto Pearson Airport

Government of Canada Employment Insurance benefits and leave

UK help and services in Canada

British Consulate-General in Toronto

36 local grocery stores in Toronto doing online delivery or pickup by neighbourhood

Canada is being left out in the cold … again

Tracy Gray and Nigel Nelson

Conservative MP Tracy Gray (Kelowna and Lake County) and Nigel Nelson (previous chair of the International Consortium of British Pensioners)

Nigel Nelson is a regular contributor to Brits in Toronto, and is a member of the non-profit Canadian Alliance of British Pensioners (CABP), and Previous Chair of the (also) non profit International Consortium of British Pensioners (ICBP).

Here are his latest thoughts on British pensioners in Canada who are in receipt of a UK state pension. All views are the CABP’s and Brits in Toronto does not endorse them and is not held liable in any way. As always, do your due diligence.

All it took was a referendum, three Prime Ministers and a general election to finally get Brexit over the line — well, that was easy, wasn’t it?

Now that the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement has been signed the UK is in what is called the “transition period” for the rest of this calendar year. During this period, lawmakers in the UK and the EU are agreeing the nitty gritty details of the Withdrawal Agreement.

UK pensioners living in the EU have already been promised the annual increase to their UK state pension for the next three years should negotiating bilateral agreements extend beyond the end of the transition period (if the UK wants to extend the transition period, they have until July 1 to do so).

Meanwhile, there are 498,000 pensioners globally in receipt of a UK state pension who never receive the annual increase, and their UK state pension remains “frozen” at the level first paid. 91% of these pensioners have retired to live in the Commonwealth countries of Australia (228,000), Canada (128,000), New Zealand (65,000) and South Africa (32,000). They will remain out in the cold since the UK government is not offering them bilateral agreements and so their UK state pensions remain “frozen.”

Of the pensioners in Canada who have retired and are in receipt of a UK state pension, around 56% of them live in Ontario and another quarter live in BC.

My wife and I (who both receive frozen UK state pensions) recently had the opportunity to meet with our newly elected MP, Tracy Gray. Tracy has hit the ground running in her first term as an MP and is proud to be Shadow Minister for Interprovincial Trade as well as a Member of the Canadian Branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA).

Tracy is one of the most engaged MPs that I have had the privilege of meeting, both in Canada and the UK. She had a lot of questions, so it was a good job I went well prepared!

We started by looking at the number of pensioners with frozen UK state pensions who live in Canada, then in BC and finally in her constituency here in Kelowna. We discussed the unfair and discriminatory policy the UK government has — you receive the annual state pension increase if you live in the USA, but you don’t if you live in Canada, for example.

We also highlighted how much less money, over time, that state pensioners receive compared to their peers in the UK.

So, for example, if you retired from the UK to Canada in June 2001, on a full UK state pension, you would have received £72.50 per week. Today, nearly 19 years later, you would still be getting £72.50 per week, and, as a result, you would have received £26,500 (C$47,000) less than you would have received if you had remained in the UK.

Tracy was interested in knowing what reasons that the UK government has given for not uprating our pensions. We explained the reasons (or excuses!), including cost and the need for bilateral agreements, which are illogical and discriminatory.

The UK government has estimated that the cost to uprate frozen pensions globally is £600 million a year, which sounds like a lot until you realise that the government is sitting on a state pension surplus of £18 billion, and it has estimated that by 2024-25, the surplus will be an eye-watering £50 billion.

What is even more frustrating is that the UK government has recently negotiated new bilateral agreements with some EEA countries (Norway, Iceland, Lichtenstein, Switzerland and Republic of Ireland) when it has consistently said that no more agreements would be negotiated because they are too expensive; and there are likely to be more agreements to come with the remaining EU countries.

However, Commonwealth countries like Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa are left out in the cold. Again.

In 2013, Freedom of Information Request No. 595 was filed in the UK, requesting clarification regarding the need for reciprocal agreements. The response from the UK government was, “Bilateral agreements are not necessary in order for pensions paid outside Great Britain and the EU to be uprated.”

It is unfortunate that MPs in Canada have been so badly advised in the past. The UK government is disingenuous in that it is still insisting that bilateral agreements are the only solution to providing state pension parity, when clearly, this is not the case.

We then covered the financial effect that the freezing of our state pensions has on the Canadian economy; the effect has been conservatively estimated to be north of half a billion dollars a year, and it impacts significantly on some of the oldest, most vulnerable and frail members of our society: seniors.

According to Statistics Canada, as at 2016, there were 828,000 pensioners living in Canada aged 65 and over on “low income,” and, according to the Canadian government, 10.3% of men and 10.8% of women aged 65 and over were living below the poverty line.

Tracy then asked how she could help, and we explained that a short-term goal was to get frozen state pensions onto the agenda at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in June of this year. Other goals included bringing this to the attention of the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, and all ministers whose departments would gain from unfreezing our state pensions.

In addition, we would like to establish a link between:
i) The Canada-United Kingdom Inter-Parliamentary Association (RUUK) and the APPG for Frozen British Pensions in the UK; and
ii) The Canadian Branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CCOM) and the APPG.

Finally, we said that a key goal was to encourage the Canadian government to ensure that any future trade deals between the UK and Canada are linked to the unfreezing of our state pensions.

The detailed Q&A we had with Tracy can be read here. If you are receiving a frozen British state pension, or you think you will qualify in the future, and you have not met with your MP yet, we would encourage you do so (they don’t bite — honestly!), and you can read the “CABP Talking Points About Our Campaign” notes we used here.

As Tracy is now a member of the Canadian Branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, and it is due to meet soon, she will endeavour to get the frozen pensions issue onto the agenda for discussion at that meeting.

Tracy then suggested that we should look at raising a Parliamentary petition since one only needs 25 Canadian citizens and/or permanent residents to sign a petition for it to be debated in the House of Commons.

Our new MP here in Kelowna was very engaged throughout our 45-minute conversation, asking incisive questions and hopefully she will be very supportive of our cause going forwards.

Curious Minds: The Royal Family with Toronto Star’s Shinan Govani = Contest to win two subscriptions

Curious Minds

The Royal Family in decades gone by and Shinan Govani in days gone by

It’s contest time! But first read about what you can win before you decide to go for it or not. Huge clue: you should have some interest in the British Royal Family …

Are you still reeling from #Megxit? Gossiping over the latest season of The Crown? Holding a candle in the wind for the legendary Diana? Join Toronto Star Society Columnist — and avid Royal watcher — Shinan Govani as he breaks down the modern history of the one and only House of Windsor, bringing to life its most colourful personalities, its most opulent traditions and, of course, its juiciest scandals.

Featuring video highlights from royal milestones and special guest interviews with royal experts on both sides of the pond, this special Saturday morning series, unfolding across six weeks from March 14 – April 14, will be a spirited celebration — and clever dissection — of the family we can’t stop watching.

Shinan Govani is a contributing columnist with the Toronto Star and a columnist for Hello! Canada who was once dubbed “the go-to Canadian” by Page Six. Both social chronicler and pop culture decoder, he’s reported from fashion weeks in Milan and Paris and film festivals at Sundance, Cannes and Toronto and his writing has appeared in Vanity Fair, Town & Country and The Daily Beast.

Full course details are highlighted here.

So, do you want to win two free subscriptions for this? Simply rearrange these letters to form the name of a soon-to-be former British Royal: ARRYH

Post your answer and contact name in the comments and/or the Brits in Toronto Twitter feed and we’ll randomly select a winner on March 8 to pass on to the organizer.

The best of British to you all!

Britannia: Britpop & Madchester Video Dance Party with Oasis Spotlight — Feb. 22

Oasis spotlight

Bros have really let themselves go

Saturday, February 22 is shaping up to be the best night in 2020 for Brits in Toronto so far because of two main reasons: The Toronto British Expat Meetup Group Pub Quiz is happening AND Britannia: Britpop & Madchester Video Dance Party with Oasis Spotlight!

Start with one and end the night with t’other! Or you can stay in and stick t’kettle on for a luvly cuppa char, chook. Your choice.

Britannia is the ONLY Britpop Video Dance Party in North America. It’s packed with hundreds of Britpop fans getting down to the coolest UK tunes of the past and present.

This coming Saturday, at Remix Lounge in downtown Toronto, the night will feature an Oasis Spotlight = means lots of their videos will be played on the night by this Brit-related bloke, DJ Lazarus.

DJ Lazarus

“Hello? Who? Alright Gaz! You what? Can’t, mate, I’m spinning on me decks! I’ll give you a shout later, geezer! Sweet as!”

Join the common people for tunes from: Oasis, The Verve, Suede, Pulp, Blur, Supergrass, The Stone Roses, Inspiral Carpets, Sleeper, Shed Seven, The Boo Radleys, Wonderstuff, Ride, The Smiths, The Charlatans, Happy Mondays, Carter USM, Jesus Jones, Echobelly, Manic Street Preachers, Travis, Stereolab, Catherine Wheel, Ocean Colour Scene, EMF, House Of Love, Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, Kula Shaker, The Jam, Soup Dragons, The Auteurs, Joy Division, Ian Brown, Dodgy, Mansun, Black Grape, Morrissey, The La’s, The Farm, Republica, Menswear, Cast, Space, Longpigs, Echo and the Bunnnymen, Lush, Primal Scream, James, Saint Etienne, Gene, Jesus And Mary Chain, Lightning Seeds, Catatonia, Spiritualized, Adorable, Paul Weller, Franz Ferdinand, Super Furry Animals, Simple Minds, Rolling Stones, Flowered Up, The Bluetones, The Fall, New Order, The Mock Turtles, Radiohead, The Beatles, and many more.

Text and/or post pictures and requests to the video screens during the party. Include the hash tag #britsintoronto too for absolutely no prizes whatsoever, but just for shits and giggles and our undying gratitude! 🙂

All the details are here so see you then! It really is a fun night.

Totally biased product review by me — Mistaan Sweets

Mistaan Sweets

Chicken Karahi bought from Mistaan Sweets. They also sell the spicy Tamarind Date sauce so we used that on some roast potatoes.

There’s a great little no-frills curry place up by Finch and the 404 called Mistaan Sweets but you wouldn’t notice it if you drove by as it’s tucked away in an industrial area, hence this review. You’re welcome.

As the name implies their specialty is sweet goods and they sell a ton of those, but the curries are just as good and very authentic. There’s not much seating space but we suspect most customers just grab a takeaway for the office lunch. It is open seven days a week which is a bonus too.

They also sell a nice range of Indian sauces and pickles at very reasonable prices.

Our go-to dish there is the Chicken Karahi and it’s a decent-sized portion at a nice price of $6.99 which is not bad at all. Just ask the server for extra spice and it will suit most tastes. Nice large chunks of chicken and keep an eye out for the green chilli they throw in for fun. That has bite! We still need to try more dishes, including the Vindaloo.

This is a great little place if you’re in the hood and we give it a Brits in Toronto 4/5 stars.

Update February 27, 2020
We have raised the rating to a Brits in Toronto 5/5 stars! Just had the Chicken Vindaloo and, OMG bruv, kidding you not, the flavour is on point. Be warned though = ultra hot spice level. We’re talking a 5-tissue blow your nose level. Love this place.

Skyfall In Concert

Skyfall In Concert

When Bond fires his gun the snare drums really kick in like pew pew pew!

If you like the music in James Bond films then you probably heard that the theme tune to the new upcoming Bond film came out yesterday.

Coincidentally, someone contacted us a few days previously via encrypted message in a secret drop box behind the Tim’s on Dundas Street West by Dufferin: Albert. Michael Albert.

Michael informed us of an exciting cinematic experience happening on February 21-22 that Bond fans and Brits in Toronto readers may be interested in. Special offer for Queen and country below.*

Skyall In Concert is at Meridian Hall (formerly Sony Centre) next week. In this concert screening, the most popular James Bond movie will be displayed on a huge screen with a full symphony orchestra playing the score, live, in sync with the film.

These kinds of events are great nights out — they give fans of the film a really unique and entertaining experience, and get to see films they love with the huge impact of a full orchestra.

This concert screening is also a great excuse for a swanky date night, and with Valentine’s Day TODAY, the timing couldn’t be better to score some tickets.

We think this 007 experience will be great!

*Michael is happy to offer Brits in Toronto readers 15% off tickets to the performances on February 21-22. To redeem the discount, please visit the website, select your desired performance, and enter the promo code: SHAKEN … as in, not stirred.

Totally biased product review by me — The Spice Tailor

The Spice Tailor

That artfully composed photo above shows the ACTUAL curry we made using The Spice Tailor

This blog was set up in part for Brits in Toronto to find the best curries in the city. That includes restaurants and the kind you can cook yourself at home. But which are NEVER as good as the restaurants. (Ping us if you know different, we’re all ears …)

Spotted The Spice Tailor on the shop shelf and was enticed by the nice package design. Always a sucker for a photo of the person that created the recipe, so did some Googling and found out this product is the result of Anjum Anand’s hard work. She’s a TV chef from the UK, so already bonus points as we all know the best curries come from the UK.

As we’re quite lazy too, we’re very keen on products that take the hard work out of throwing a Ruby Murray together after a hard day at work. The Spice Tailor we tried (Tikka Masala) had three separate pouches included: whole spice pouch, a base sauce and a stir-in sauce. All you have to provide is the meat/seafood and veggies. We also added some more hot sauce because this particular version was quite mild to our palate.

After toasting the spices for about 30 seconds we added chicken (already cooked to save time), added the base sauce and simmered for a few minutes. We stirred in the main sauce and cooked for a further 10 minutes or so. It was really quick and easy.

The final result? A nice, tasty curry that hits the spot but may need some extra hot sauce added to it depending on your taste. We’re keen to try more in this product range and give it a Brits in Toronto 3/5 stars.

Update March 17, 2020

We’re goan in!

On the advice of Anjum Anand herself (on Facebook but we can’t remember the link so here’s proof she is an actual person) we tried the Fiery Goan Curry tonight which was definitely a notch up in the spice level and, again, flavour was on point.

So we’re happy to upgrade The Spice Tailor to a Brits in Toronto 4/5 stars.

The Toronto British Expat Meetup Group Pub Quiz is happening February 22

Toronto Brits

Future British BFFs

Amanda got in touch and asked us to give a shout out to the first The Toronto British Expat Meetup Group Pub Quiz night of the year — no — the DECADE! It’s a biggie.

Details …

The quiz is a mixture of general knowledge and specific categories, covering all things British, Canadian and the world … and as always, there will be a theme.

DATE: Saturday, February 22

TIME: 7:30 p.m.

VENUE: Duke of Somerset, 655 Bay St., Toronto (nearest subway station is Dundas or College)

Please go to and find the TORONTO BRIT MEETUP GROUP (with Amanda as the organizer)and sign up for free if you haven’t already. All the details are there.

Have fun all!

Toodle-pip, European Union

Brexit underline

Time to go it alone

Today, the UK is finally leaving the European Union, one of the most historic events in its history.

You’re either cheering or crying. No middle ground on this one.

Not going to get into the politics here, the pros and cons, the predictions. It’s happening and now we must all hope for the best and see if it was the right decision.

Will be keeping an eye on stats regarding more Brits coming to Toronto in the next few years. Or more Brits going home.

Who knows?

BBC TV News wants to chat to Brits abroad about Brexit

BBC News

The Beeb wants to chat to Brits abroad

We got an e-mail from someone at the Beeb who wants to chat to Brits abroad about Brexit. Here’s the request so please contact Victoria if interested.

Hi everyone, I’m Victoria Cook, a journalist at the BBC News in the UK.

I am looking for some British expats living abroad to take part in a short BBC TV News feature about Brexit. I’m keen to hear from people whose lives and/or businesses may be affected either positively or negatively after January 31.

It wouldn’t involve much commitment — just a short video message from your phone!

My contact details:

Tel: (from Canada) 011-44-7711348905

Happy to explain more about it if you’re interested.

Kind regards,
Victoria Cook (in London)

Wishing everyone a happy, healthy and fun 2020!

Happy New Year 2020

Wishing everyone a happy new year for 2020

I’ve been admittedly a bit absent from the blog for a while, for no particular reason. Just life, really. But thought it a good time to check back in as the last few days of the decade trickle by.

It’s that weird period between Christmas and New Year’s Eve where time melds together … a bit like Jeff Goldblum and the fly but without the huge bulbous eyes and acid vomit.

Seemed a bit narrow to wish just Brits in Toronto a great new year, so also hoping that Brits in London, Tottenham, Battersea, Cambridge, Leeds and a ton more also have a brilliant 2020!

Brits in Toronto has been going for over six years now (first post) and I’m thankful for all the support and suggestions along the way. Seems like only yesterday it was voted “Best New Website 2013” by my mum.

A huge highlight this year was the first Brits in Toronto/Toronto FC event we organized on a warm summer evening that brought out the crowds to watch some football and mingle. I personally met some people there for the first time that I’ve got to know via the blog, so hoping we can plan another one in 2020.

Also hoping to get some Brits together at a pub in Toronto around the end of January for a (formerly postponed) laugh or cry — depending on your political leanings — over Brexit and a pint or two. Seems like it’s finally happening now so let’s just get on with it. CBC News will probably come too and film some reactions.

One of my favourite parts of the blog is Successful Brits in Toronto. Constantly proud and inspired to see how people have left family and friends behind in the UK and made a good life in this city. Definitely want to feature more of those in 2020 so please send them my way.

I sense more Brits will be looking to move to Toronto next year and start the all-important job search. It’s definitely not easy. But there’s a place on the blog for those who are interested to send some info about themselves, what they are looking for and a link back to an e-mail or LinkedIn profile to give them a little head start.

Always interested in hearing about new places opening … food … drink … events that may be of interest to Brits so please send those along too for a totally biased product review by me. Sometimes there’s free stuff to be won, which is a bonus.

So, expect more posting frequency next year and the chance to connect, whether online or ideally, in person. It’s fun.

And that’s a wrap for the decade. Wishing everyone a fantastic new year and see you in 2020!

The 15th Annual @European Union Film Festival featuring British film, Only You

Only You

A tantalizing scene from Only You

The 15th Annual @European Union Film Festival – Toronto runs from November 7-21 and will be showing 28 films from 28 countries, all at the Royal Cinema.

This year, Brits in Toronto are thrilled to be co-presenting the Canadian premiere of the British film Only You playing on November 11 at 8:30 p.m.

As always, admission to the festival is FREE but you can reserve your seats in advance to avoid the line-up here.

Check back to this post/Twitter account a week before screening for your chance to … WIN TWO FREE TICKETS! = All you have to do is retweet this.

Here’s the trailer to wet your whistle:

Brexit: Are we over the line yet?

Brexit door

When one door closes another one stays closed too

Nigel Nelson is a regular contributor to Brits in Toronto, and is a member of the non-profit Canadian Alliance of British Pensioners (CABP), and Past Chair of the (also) non-profit International Consortium of British Pensioners (ICBP).

Here’s his latest thoughts on pinning the tail on the PM, Brexit, pensioners in Canada who receive the UK State Pension, and the upcoming Canadian election. All views are the CABP’s and Brits in Toronto does not endorse them and is not held liable in any way. As always, do your due diligence.

I received an e-mail from British Bloke yesterday and he invited me to write an article on Brexit — he said that I could write something for him this week, or wait until after the weekend.

Did I want to write something now (and look foolish next week) or play it safe and write after the vote. I told him that I was very busy this week, and would next week be OK?

The e-mail from him came at a timely moment as my octogenarian friend James (you may remember that I first introduced you to James in the Ouch! How Brexit is hurting UK pensioners in Canada and in the later article James and I go to London) and I were playing pin the tail on the next PM. Even with a blindfold on, he managed to pin it on Elizabeth May three times out of five — he always has had a penchant for strong women.

I had to explain to him that Elizabeth May was not standing in every constituency, and since he lives in Ontario he will have to choose somebody closer to home …

In a nutshell, where are we with Brexit?

So far, this single issue has blown through two Prime Ministers: David Cameron and Theresa May (who submitted essentially the same “Withdrawal Agreement” to the UK Parliament four times in succession, only to have four resounding defeats, leading to her resignation) and now threatens the short tenure of Boris Johnson.

This last one seems very strange since he easily won the hearts and minds of the Conservative heartlands in becoming PM, and he has been very consistent in saying that the UK is leaving the EU on October 31, come hell or high water, with or without a deal.

But there has still been strong resistance in his own Party, never mind Opposition parties that could see and smell blood in the water already.

In order to avoid a head-on collision, Boris prorogued Parliament which was deemed illegal, then the Benn Act was passed which forbade Parliament from taking the “no deal” route, and, instead Boris would have to agree with the EU a new withdrawal date).

Boris then expelled 23 members of his own Party for voting against him (including a good friend of the “frozen” pensioners, Sir Oliver Letwin (no name dropping, but one of the cleverest men James and I have ever met)), and he has kept plugging away, even issuing a document this week entitled “No-Deal Readiness Report” and agreed a “new” deal with the EU.

This was put before the UK Parliament today (Parliament has only sat three times since 1939 on a Saturday.

What has all the fuss been about, you may ask?

Finding a solution in Ireland that suits Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, the UK and the EU — an impossible task you may think. Everyone was agreed that there should not be a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland (this would be like annulling the “Good Friday Agreement” and nobody wants to go there).

Boris has now agreed with the EU that the whole of the UK will leave the EU customs union. This will allow the UK to negotiate future trade deals with any country in the world. There will be different tax rates for goods that are transported to Northern Ireland, depending on where they are for use in Northern Ireland or whether they will be transported to the Republic of Ireland, and vice versa; goods that arrive in the Republic of Ireland will be taxed differently depending on whether they stay there or whether they are transported to Northern Ireland or the UK. More details of the “deal” can be found here.

Since my main interest in all of this is the impact any Brexit deal has on UK pensioners living in the EU. Essentially, if a Brexit deal is struck with the EU before the end of this month, then the UK pensioners living in the EU (of which, according to data from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) there were 498,000 as at February 2019) will continue to receive the annual increase to their UK State Pension (a bumper 4% next April) for the transition period which ends on December 31, 2020.

The transition period will then be used to negotiate reciprocal social security arrangements between the UK and each of the EU countries such that the UK pensioners living in the EU will continue to receive free healthcare and UK State Pension annual increases.

If the UK has not finalised a deal with the EU by October 31, then things get really interesting. Boris is adamant that the UK will leave by the end of this month, even if that means there is a “no deal,” and the Benn Act of Parliament prevents this from happening. The Benn Act is interesting because the Judiciary usually keeps its nose out of political decision making, but not so on this occasion.

So, if the UK does crash out of the EU on October 31, UK pensioners living in the EU will continue to receive the annual increase to their UK State Pension until 2023 — presumably because it will take much longer to negotiate bilateral social security agreements with each of the EU countries, since they will be really pissed off with the UK.

Also, with a “no deal” it is not clear whether the UK will still have to pay the divorce bill — which, according to the pillar of the British press, The Sun, is an amount “between £35 and £39 billion.”

It has taken a long time to get here, but how does this affect UK pensioners who have come her to Canada to retire?

According to Department for Work & Pensions numbers, there were close to 134,000 UK pensioners living here, and there will be no “bumper 4%” increase for them next April (there are over 26,000 of them who are receiving less than £20 per week (say, CAD 32), and another 50,000 who are receiving between £20 and £40 per week). A UK State Pension is “frozen” at the level at which it is first received, with no annual increase, ever.

So, by way of example, if you had retired from the UK and came here to Canada in 2001, aged 65, on a full UK State Pension, you would have received £72.50 (C$159) per week. You would still be getting £72.50 a week (C$119), but in real terms getting C$40 less per week due to the drop in the £ to CAD exchange rate. Since emigrating here, your peers back in the UK will have received £26,538 (C$47,026) more. If you are a retired UK ex-pat, this chart may help you see how much less you have received.

If you are already affected, or think that you will be affected by the UK “frozen pension” policy, and would like to help us in our fight, please check out the Canadian Alliance of British Pensioners (CABP) and they may be able to help you.

Once new bilateral social security agreements have been negotiated between the UK and EU countries, then the “frozen” pensioner action groups like CABP will challenge the UK Government on a “why them, and not us?” basis.

Finally (at last, you say), if you were one of the 3.4 million Advanced Poll voters, then congratulations. If you didn’t vote in the Advanced Poll, and you are eligible to vote, I implore you to get out and vote on October 21.

This could be a close federal election, and every vote counts. I have no idea who James will be voting for … he is playing his cards very close to his chest … but, to his chagrin, it won’t be Elizabeth May!

Where do you stand on the “frozen pensions” issue? Nigel can be reached through:


How will Brexit affect you? We’re looking for opinions: Part 1


You MUST be affected by this, in some way, surely?

Jason Ho is a producer with CBC News and reached out to Brits in Toronto to put the word out that he’s looking for people who will be affected by Brexit in the following ways:

  • Supply chain — ability to get materials out of the UK to Canada and vice versa
  • Exiting or entering the country, consular services, visas, immigration issues
  • Healthcare service access
  • Anyone who’s getting paid in British pounds, worried about the cost of living in Canada if the currency fluctuates wildly
  • Concern about family members in the coming months and what the impact will be on the cost of living, supply chain within the UK
  • Effects we don’t know about but someone from Britain may be aware of
  • Those who Brexit will benefit in some way

You don’t have to particularly be a Brit expat, but do need to have a view or be affected by the above issues.

Please contact Jason directly at or 416-205-7420.

So, that’s Part 1.

If Jason gets enough respondents with the kind of feedback he’s seeking, then Part 2 will be that we all meet up at a British pub (got one already interested that has the space and allows media filming) the week before the Brexit deadline — so anywhere from October 25-29 — and Jason can take it from there for CBC News.

So, put the word out and contact Jason if you can help, then watch this space …

Xpat Xpo: Networking event and trade show for internationals living in Toronto

Xpat Xpo

“OK, hello Toronto! Now what?”

Are you an international living in Canada?

If you’re reading Brits in Toronto you may get asked that question a lot. You may also be asked to say the words “urinal,” “aluminium” or “water” a lot too for the cheap laughs. But we digress.

Created by a fellow Brit in Toronto, Kate Johnson wanted to share her knowledge, connections and experience with her fellow immigrants so started Xpat Xpo.

Xpat Xpo is a Toronto networking event and trade show created to celebrate Canada’s cultural diversity. It’s a one-stop shop; home away from home; where you can gain valuable knowledge as well as meet people from all over the world.

The Trade Show Floor features Service Canada, Immigration Lawyers, CRA, Desjardins, Health Canada, ACCES Employment, Entrepreneur Services (such as franchising) and more.

The Speakers Core has talks on renting/buying real estate in Toronto, how to get Permanent Residency, how to manage your finances abroad, and how to find your perfect job in the city.

The Networking Lounge has music, coffee, couches, flag face paint, FREE professional head shots to improve your LinkedIn profile, and prize-giveaways; so people can meet and mingle with others who have chosen Canada as their new home.

And best of all, use the promo code BRIT50 when you register for 50% off the price of admission (only $6!).

Date: Sunday, October 6, 2019 (This weekend!)
Time: 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Location: Toronto Reference Library, 789 Yonge St., Toronto

Soldier On

Soldier On

Soldier On features a cast of actors and veterans

Jennifer Grose is the producer of Soldier On, a play about how veterans cope with coming back into civilian life. “It’s a sort of ‘Full Military Monty’, if you will,” she wrote.

“We are bringing it over from London, UK to Toronto this November and are looking to get the word out. We have Thomas Craig from Murdoch Mysteries in it and Lance Corporal Cassidy Little who is a former Royal Marine medic, who lost his right leg below the knee during a tour of Afghanistan in the summer of 2011. Most of the cast are from the UK and we will have a handful of Canadians as well joining them. Half are actors and half veterans.

“It was produced in the UK by the Soldiers’ Arts Academy (SAA), which is about creating a platform for the veteran community to engage with careers in the performing arts.
The play had its first performance at the Northcott Theatre, Exeter in 2018, and it’s been universally very positively received by both critics and audiences wherever it’s been on since.

“We were then invited to bring the show into London’s West End by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s team, and we ran for a month at The Other Palace Theatre in November 2019,” added Jennifer.

Now Soldier On will be coming to Toronto November 26 – December 8, 2019. For ticket information please visit

Proceeds from ticket sales go to members of the Armed Forces and their families.
Military members and first responders are eligible for discounted pricing.

More information too on Instagram and Twitter.

British Expat Pub Quiz: Back To School

The Toronto Brit Meetup Group

Curly Wurlys and Hobnobs ahoy!

And we’re back. The summer break was great but we saw a leaf fall from a tree the other day. It’s done. Had an ugly cry in the shower and now we’re over it and looking for fun things to do in Toronto this autumn.

What a coincidence! Amanda from The Toronto Brit Meetup Group asked us to give a shout out to their next pub quiz night at the Duke of Somerset on Saturday, September 14 at 7:30 p.m.

Here’s the blurb (her words) from Amanda …

Please join us at our very popular pub quiz night, where you have the opportunity to meet fellow Brits to chat about all things British that you miss, over a pint whilst answering trivia questions for the chance to win a Curly Wurly or a packet of Hobnobs!

The quiz is a mixture of General Knowledge and specific categories, covering all things British, Canadian and the World.

This quiz, the theme will be BACK TO SCHOOL — however, as always, don’t always take our headings literally as we could throw in a spin to the theme just to keep things interesting!

Things you should know;

1. Please be at the Duke of Somerset by 7:00 p.m. at the latest.
2. Kick-off is at 7:30 p.m. sharp, so if you don’t have a seat and a drink by then, you might not be able to participate. We will aim to finish by 10:30 p.m.
3. Numbers are limited to 135 (legally by the pub for fire safety reasons), so the first 135 to RSVP and turn up on the night will have a shot at winning. Once we reach this number we will not be allowed to let anyone else in, so your RSVP doesn’t guarantee you a seat — hence the reason to get there early.
4. Teams are limited to 6 people maximum. Start thinking of your team name now.
5. You are welcome to come on your own, with a partner/friend/Mensa member, and we will join you up with other people on the night. More brain cells = prizes.
1st prize – British goodies gift basket worth $125.
2nd and 3rd prizes – Duke of Somerset gift vouchers and a British goody bag.
4th to 10th prizes – British goody bags.
If you don’t make the top 10 teams, better luck next time.
7. On the night Amanda will be ably assisted by Charlotte and Yvonne who will allocate you to a team (if you want to be), collect your Meetup dues, collect the papers and hand out prizes. Phil will be on the microphone trotting out the questions as the Quizmaster. We will all be wearing name labels.
8. Name labels: we will have sticky labels and pens for you to all write your name on, and where you are from. It’s a Meetup, so let’s all meet someone new; however as much as you probably will meet new people, this event isn’t a “mix and mingle” type of event which we hold separately. We are all here for the questions and the chance of winning a Curly Wurly or packet of Hobnobs!
9. Cost: $5. Yvonne and Charlotte will be round to rattle the tin when the quiz gets going.
10. Looking forward to seeing you all soon.

So, there you have it. Pub … Brits … Curly Wurlys … what could be better?

Successful Brits in Toronto: Jake Wyatt

Jake Wyatt

If the photographer had moved slightly to the right and crouched down a bit, the ball on the trophy would have fitted exactly over the ball on the logo behind.

If you attended the recent Brits in Toronto and TFC British Heritage Night, you would have spotted a very tall bloke strolling around, looking down and surveying all in his BMO Field kingdom.

That would have been Jake Wyatt who came up with the idea in the first place, roped in all the local Brits in Toronto looking for some free PR on the back of a Championship-winning Toronto football team and the rest is history.

Since then we’ve had about five e-mails from people with the same surname Wyatt, which is really a coincidence, asking us to feature him as our latest Successful Brit in Toronto.

What made you decide to choose Toronto as a city of choice? Did you plan a permanent move, or wanted to “try it for a while and see how it goes” and it turned out to be longer than planned?

My journey towards living in Canada/Toronto has been interesting. I grew up in England playing basketball. I was a 6’4 lanky teenager and found my way into a local basketball team. Turned out I would fall in love with the game and decided to take it serious and ended up playing at a decent level.

At the age of 18 I left England to move to Iceland and play for FSU basketball team/ youth academy in the Icelandic town of Selfoss.

After spending one year in Iceland, I was offered a position with an American college basketball team in Pennsylvania. I graduated four years later and attended Grad School in Montgomery, AL. It was here that I met my Canadian wife Paige who was a fellow international student studying at a local college.

So yeah, long story short fell in love with a girl and here I am and couldn’t be happier!

What steps did you take to land your first Toronto job? Did the infamous “Canadian experience” hinder you in any way?

I was lucky, I found out at an earliest age that I wanted to work in sports and I enjoyed selling; sports sales was a natural fit. I had some great mentors growing up who encouraged me to get as much experience in sports business as possible and I was able to do several internships/entry-level jobs in the industry. Once my wife and I decided Canada/ Toronto was going to be home, I started applying for jobs in my field.

Timing worked out and a job became available at MLSE in sports sales. I had decent experience working in sport business with a few different teams in the states and back in England — I also had a few connections in my network that helped me with references here at MLSE.

I applied for the position, and after a long process, battling with Skype interviews and time zones, I landed the job. I was still in England at the time, so was one of the lucky ones who had a job lined up as soon as I landed in Canada.

What’s the best/worst aspects of living in Toronto?

I love living here in Canada and being in this city. I had been lucky to travel at a young age. For me Canada/ Toronto is the perfect mix of England and USA.

The people here have a genuine friendliness to them. I loved my time in America, and met some great people who are now lifelong friends … the food, big roads, and American dream spoke to me!

However, as time went on I found people/relationships in the States (especially the south) can be service level. At times, when I was in the States I found myself missing the English greeting at a local pub — where you walk in and the bartender starts pouring a pint of Fosters, slams it on the table and sticks their hand out for the four quid you owe them, make some joke about your chosen attire, then proceeds to ask how your day was. Sounds strange I know, but I missed that when I was in the States; I found the “You’re Welcome/My Pleasure” interactions a bit false at times.

Here in Canada, I find the people are genuine and more able to keep up with the English banter, it’s a welcoming country of diverse people, but still has the “Canadian Dream” element. I find Canada welcomes people to be themselves. With such a wide range of cultures I have never felt the need to act or behave “Canadian” … instead, I find the country encourages me to be the best version of myself and add to society that way.

The toughest part of being here is distance from family and friends in the UK. I don’t feel homesick, but it is hard not being able to pop round and see family on weekends and having to allow for the five-hour time difference when communicating with friends and family back in England.

On the plus side it is always nice to visit home during holidays and host friends and family when they want to come out and visit.

Do you make an effort to connect with other Brits in the city, or just meet them when chance allows it? Any recommended pubs/eateries/other places for homesick Brits to meet each other and network?

Since being here I have been surprised to see how big the “Brits In Toronto” community is. It is always nice to bump into fellow Brits and talk all things from pubs to English fry ups!

I recently worked with this blog and a number of the other English social groups to plan a Brits In Toronto event at a Toronto FC game. The event was great, and lots of people at the event were surprised with the standard of football this side of the pond.

Sorry, the salesman in me is coming out here … but attending TFC, Raptors and Leafs games is a great way to feel connected with the city and meet people; I have bumped into several Brits, especially at TFC games.

I am in a lucky position to sell a product I believe in. If anyone is interested in Toronto FC ticket packages or wants to meet up at a game please do reach out and contact me at or 416-815-5400, ext. 3072. We have also set up a discount code with Brits in Toronto: click HERE and use the promo code “BritsInToronto” — this will get you up to a 25% discount on TFC tickets.

Okay sales pitch over! But to answer the question, yes I have made an effort to connect with fellow Brits and I am looking forward to continuing to do so in the future!

Open question/comment: feel free to write anything here/advice/tips on a Brit living in, or moving to, Toronto.

My advice would be to embrace your British roots but also accept that this is Canada and this is your home. This website and other groups on social media are a great way to stay connected with the British community.

But get involved in living in Canada — meet people, explore, and learn from different cultures. This city has so much to offer, from food, to festivals and professional sports teams. I still get the buzz when driving into the city, especially at night.

This is a special place and be sure to not become numb to the city. Remember the feeling of first being here and make a conscious effort to hold onto that feeling.

Oh and wear as many layers as possible in the winter, it is bloody freezing!

Thanks Jake. Didn’t notice the sales pitch at all, mate. If anyone wants to connect, here’s his LinkedIn profile.

Need to transfer money overseas? Maybe VFX Financial can help


It’s the VFX Financial logo, very minimalist

Fellow Brit in Toronto Andy Hedges reached out to Brits in Toronto for help in getting the word out about a company he works for called VFX Financial, so we said we’d give it a quick plug. Here’s the details …

Anglo Canadian currency specialists VFX Financial have provided Brits in Toronto readers with an extra special rate for their currency needs. So whether you are already based in Canada and need to send money overseas (not just to the UK,) or you are in the UK and need some loonies, VFX Financial can help.

Highlights include:

  • Special rate for all Brits in Toronto readers.
  • No transfer charges.
  • Generally 2%-3% better rates than banks.
  • Suitable for both Brits coming to Canada and individuals and businesses already located here.
  • Free multi-currency card for UK/Eire based clients — perfect to save money when travelling as there are no overseas usage fees.
  • Same or next day delivery of currency.
  • Fully regulated in both Canada and the UK/EU.
  • No minimum or maximum transfer limits.

To benefit from the special negotiated rate, during the sign-up process, simply enter the word “Brits” as the intro code. You can e-mail Andy for more info too at

That’s about it, really. Full disclaimer: do your own research on all the above before signing up, Brits in Toronto cannot be held responsible for your dealings with the company and no money changed hands for this post, it’s purely for informational purposes.

Totally biased product review by me — London Gate British Pub

Her Majesty

Actually, ma’am, it’s Harry’s pub

Brits in Toronto has been searching the city for nigh on 19 years and counting for the quintessential proper authentic “British curry” and has — thus far — come up short. And we’ve been to a LOT of curry houses in and around the GTA. (A couple have come close if you look back at some of our totally biased product reviews.)

That may have changed yesterday when we checked out the London Gate British Pub. According to the owner and head chef, Harry — a Yorkshireman who lived in Scotland for 20 years before moving to Ashford, Kent and who has cooked in a lot of Indian restaurants — wants to bring that real British curry taste to Toronto.

First things first. This is a little off the beaten track at Eglinton Avenue West and Renforth Drive. Harry says they will be on Skip The Dishes at some point.

Secondly, it doesn’t look like a British pub from the outside so you may drive right past it. There is a Guinness sign outside to clue you in. Plus lots of parking.

The space is HUGE with a patio, pool table and semi-private room that can presumably be booked for events.

Telephone Box and Pool

Semi Private Room

So, food and drink I hear you ask? Here’s the tap list. Pretty impressive. We sampled the Honey Dew and it was very nice.

Honey Dew

The bangers and mash with caramelized onions and gravy was also good, but lost points because Canadian baked beans were used instead of British-style baked beans. Harry explained that they are too expensive. We countered that they are now freely available in Canada and maybe can be included as an optional side for an extra dollar or something. Harry rubbed his chin and looked thoughtful at that suggestion, so stay tuned.

Bangers and Mash

The kicker was the Yorkshire Pudding wrap with garlic aioli, mixed cheese, caramelized onions, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, drizzled with gravy and served with fries. Choice of protein: chicken, sliced roast beef or soy. (Lots of veggie and vegan options here too.) This was a very large wrap so come hungry. It’s like a roast dinner wrapped up on a plate!

Yorkshire Pudding Wrap

So, we got chatting about the curry options on the menu at that point. There’s tandoori chicken flatbread, butter chicken rice bowl, English curry and chips and chicken tikka naan. Harry was kind enough to bring us out a sample bowl of the butter chicken and it was delicious. No oily ghee, not greasy. Just a really good flavour. (Ate it too fast to snap a photo.)

BREAKING NEWS! Saved the best till last. You know when you’ve had a few pints and really crave a doner kebab? Not shawarma … or gyro … but a real doner? Well, Harry is putting those on the menu soon too. And we tried his house-made red sauce, the real stuff that is hard to get here. It is excellent. We were eating it with a spoon and wanted more.

So, find a designated driver and head to London Gate. We give it a Brits in Toronto 4/5 stars. (Harry — please introduce the doner and offer British baked beans and we’ll have a chin wag about the coveted 5th star …)

Join the GTA Scotland Supporter Club

GTA Scotland Supporter Club

Some Scottish players celebrating a goal

Just a quickie for a Sunday morning.

Joe Sinclair contacted us to spread the word that he’s setting up a GTA Scotland Supporter Club, so we’re happy to oblige.

You can check out the Facebook page, which describes it thus:

“Looking to establish a strong Scotland supporters club here in the Greater Toronto area. Let’s join together to watch all Scotland football and rugby games while enjoying a social time with others and all round good banter. Who knows? Maybe arrange a trip to see a game!!”

Or contact Joe at for more details.

Successful Brits in Toronto: Andrew Mcloughlin

Andrew Mcloughlin

Locked himself out yet again

They say an Englishman’s home is his castle but unless you own Casa Loma that’s not entirely true. So today’s Successful Brit in Toronto — Andrew Mcloughlin — is here to set the record straight as a real estate professional.

“Our house, it has a crowd,” explains Andrew. “There’s always something happening and it’s usually quite loud. Our house, in the middle of our street.”

That doesn’t really narrow it down much in a city the size of 630 square kilometres, so we need to find out more about Andrew’s passion for real estate, what brought him here to Toronto, what he’s up to and so on.

What made you decide to choose Toronto as a city of choice? Did you plan a permanent move, or wanted to “try it for a while and see how it goes” and it turned out to be longer than planned?

Growing up in the North-West of England had a lasting impact on me. It taught me that I needed to strive and plan for my goals if I ever want to achieve them. St. Helens is a great town with some amazingly talented people, but there was a point in my life, when I was around 18 years old that that travel bug bit me … and it bit hard.

A friend and I decided to travel throughout Europe for three months. This experience was transformative. It opened our minds and expanded our world view in the most impactful of ways.

Following that trip, we were hooked and knew we needed to travel more — so, on a whim, we decided that we wanted to work in Canada. We applied for work permits, packed our bags, and off we went!

At that age, everything is an adventure and this was no different. I eventually got a permanent work permit and then, over time pursued Canadian citizenship.

What steps did you take to land your first Toronto job? Did the infamous “Canadian experience” hinder you in any way?

It wasn’t the smoothest transition for me. I had some experience in software development and web design but initially I was prepared to work anywhere, doing almost anything; from working at a clothing store in the Eaton Centre to an industrial metal bending factory in Vaughan.

At the time, I thought nothing of waking up at 4:00 a.m. to take the subway and two buses north of the city, because it was all part of the experience! Through these opportunities, I was afforded the chance to meet new people and really getting to know my new city.

I eventually landed permanent roles in web development for marketing agencies and then earned the opportunity to work for a multi-national financial firm in their marketing and analytics department for the last nine years.

I always knew that my passion was in real estate and during my time working in the financial industry, I pursued my real estate goals and became a licensed realtor. As a realtor, I am inspired by the families and investors I am fortunate to partner with.

I am inspired everyday as I introduce clients to their dream homes and support them in turning those dreams into a reality!

What’s the best/worst aspects of living in Toronto?

Culture, diversity, great food — Toronto has it all. I really love this city! I met my wife here — over 10 years ago — and I am not afraid to say that I was punching above my weight when I first asked her out … but this is Toronto … and anything can happen!

The sights also get me every time. Coming from a small town in the UK, I wasn’t used to big cities and I still get a feeling of excitement in my stomach when I drive south on the DVP, on to the Gardiner into the downtown core. It’s great!

I don’t love the traffic, but for a world class city, Toronto feels smaller and more intimate than other big cities.

I feel as though there are so many opportunities here if you are willing to work for them.

Do you make an effort to connect with other Brits in the city, or just meet them when chance allows it? Any recommended pubs/eateries/other places for homesick Brits to meet each other and network?

It’s by no mistake that my wife, son and I chose a neighbourhood that has one of the largest British demographics in the city!

One of my favourite local spots that has THE BEST fish and chips in Toronto is only a few blocks from our house. If you take anything from this article you must go to the Olde Yorke Fish and Chips in Leaside. Do it now … you won’t regret it!

Andrew very kindly sent along a ton of links at that point, but we countered back and knocked him down a few, thus we shook hands on the deal at that point and here is the piece of Brits in Toronto website real estate he now lauds over forever. Pay him a visit!